RUDARE -- Zubin Potok Mayor Slaviša Ristić says there was no reason for KFOR to shut down administrative line checkpoints in northern Kosovo.
The municipal official said the move amounted to blackmail targeting Serbs, after the citizens decided to place barricades on roads leading to the Brnjak and Jarinje posts.
Ristić noted there were no security risks that would justify the closing down of Brnjak, which, unlike Jarinje, never came under attack.

The two checkpoints are used to bring food and medical supplies to the north.
"We have no choice but to persevere in our peaceful, civil resistance. We hope to achieve the goal of not having (ethnic) Albanian customs and border police in the crossings toward (central) Serbia," said the mayer.

He noted the citizens were upset after KFOR commander Erhard Buehler did not rule out the use of force.

But Ristić added that the locals were "not afraid of force".

"We are protesting peacefully and in case KFOR arrives, everyone will gather together and sit on the road."

He also said Zubin Potok was not experiencing major problems regarding the supply of food, but warned that should KFOR insist on keeping the checkpoints closed, there could be shortages in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Kosovska Mitrovica District head Radenko Nedeljković - who, along with municipal presidents in the north has been spending day and night at the barricades in Rudare, near Zvečan - called on the international community and the Kosovo Albanian authorities in Priština to learn from the crisis in the north of the southern Serb province, and realize that unilateral moves cannot solve problems.

He called on the citizens to remain calm and united, adding that there should be no room for panic despite the psychological and propaganda war waged against them on a daily basis.

"Priština is involved in saber-rattling but I am appealing on both the international community and Priština to draw conclusions that force cannot solve problems, and that the citizens have said they do not want to accept the Kosovo institutions. Time and space must be given to talks and negotiations," was his message.

He described the local Serb population as "more determined than ever" to persevere in their demands.

"This is the moment when we are fighting for our very survival," Nedeljković said.

In the northern, mostly Serb part of the ethnically divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica, the local health-care center has called a news conference for Sunday, to explain the problems they are facing after KFOR closed down the checkpoints. There have already been shortages of oxygen, medical material, and some medication, the doctors said.

Meantime in the stores in the town, there have been shortages of bread, milk and other dairy products.

South of the Ibar River, Serbs now live in scattered and isolated enclaves, as most were driven out of their homes by ethnic Albanians in the wake of the 1999 war.

Serbs north of the Ibar remained in their homes and kept their property thanks to their numbers, since they form a majority in that part of the province. They do not accept the ethic Albanian unilateral declaration of independence made in early 2008, and reject the authority of the government in Priština.

The crisis now entering its second week was sparked when the Priština government tried taking over two administrative line checkpoints in the north in order to enforce a ban on goods coming from Serbia, and used police units to do so.